History of Minneapolis, MN

By  Published Sep 15th, 2016



The first Europeans to come to the area that would become Minneapolis were French explorers in 1680 that had come to expand French territory in the region. The land was acquired by the United States in different purchases from 1787 to 1805, including a purchase managed by Zebulon Pike.

Minneapolis was founded as a town in 1856, when John H. Stevens purchased land and laid out historic Washington Avenue parallel to the Mississippi River. Charles Hoag, a prominent education figure, came up with the name for the city, combining Minnehana, the Dakota word for water, and polis,the Greek word for city. Many people may not know this, but the area was actually absorbed another city in 1872. That town, St. Anthony, was itself founded in 1855 after Franklin Steele purchased land and developed it, working with other leaders to build a dam and a sawmill. The town grew to have more than 3,000 people before it became part of the larger city.

The Hennepin Avenue Bridge, the first suspension bridge of its kind, was built in the area in 1854 as a toll bridge. Rail was built to connect the area to other regions starting in 1862, eventually connecting it to the larger Milwaukee in 1867. Under the leadership of Thomas Lowry, streetcars came to the area in 1875 and continued to grow throughout the century.

As the city evolved and lost its dominance as a worldwide center of flour milling, it rebranded itself as a haven for consumer brands, becoming the home of what would become General Mills and the historical Pillsbury Company. Vice President Hubert Humphrey got his start as the mayor of the city in 1945 and shepherded to passage the first job discrimination ordinance of its kind, imposing significant penalties and even jail sentences on those found to be discriminating in hiring and employment.

The city continues to be famed as an incubator of artistic talent, being the home to famous artists such as Bob Dylan, Charles M. Schultz, and of course, Prince.